Monday, October 10, 2011
"Dealing with Your Crap" (Because I Don't Like To Use Profanity on Facebook)
I know some people will look at a blog post like last Monday’s and say, “Yeah, right. Losing weight and getting control over my eating is a lot bigger deal than all that lovey-dovey, hippie talk.”
I understand that response. At first, I even second-guess myself, wondering if perhaps I’ve bought into some airy-fairy hubbub that doesn’t add up to more than a handful of pennies. Somehow I've forgotten the facts of my own story, but then I am quickly reminded of them in a rather unflattering way. Hence, the following:
Note: I have changed the names and details in the following account to protect those who are involved (mainly myself). I wouldn’t necessarily consider my current self to be an “emotional eater”, but the story below certainly reveals the chinks in my (or Jane’s, wink-wink) armor.
Jane is having a normal weekday afternoon, folding clothes and reheating leftovers for her 4 hungry children. After the kids are safely seated at the table with their mid-day snack, Jane decides to take a moment and browse around on the internet.
During her innocent perusing, she happens to see a picture of a friend’s new house on Facebook. The house is quaint and decorated perfectly with relaxing, yet sophisticated, color schemes and stylishly mismatched furniture. The next picture is of Jane’s beautiful friend sittng on the sugary sweet front porch of "said" house looking like a Ralph Lauren model with her sun-kissed highlights and appropriately-toned biceps, and Jane knows that her beloved friend has a ridiculously profitable Etsy business that she runs while homeschooling her delightfully well-mannered children and cooking Martha Stewart-esque meals for her dashing husband.
And suddenly Jane wants to eat. She wants to eat a lot and she wants to eat it now. She does not want to wait until the kids are in bed so she can slowly enjoy her pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream. No, she wants to eat RIGHT NOW.
So she does.
She eats almost the entire pint of ice cream, as well as chips and salsa, until her belly aches from the excess. And while she was eating, yes, she did feel better, because Ben and Jerry’s tastes, well, really good. But when the high is over and the eating is done, the pain returns: Jane is reminded that she is not as perfect as her friend seems (the key word here) and Jane will never be that perfect. And you know what? That sucks.
Let me unpack a few things here for all the skeptics out there. Jane struggles with perfectionism and self-hatred just like a lot of people out there do. Now some people don’t go to food when their ugly demons rear their heads. No, instead they’ll go to shopping or sex or cheap romance novels or…the list could go on. What happens is that they don’t deal with the problem because they dull the pain with whatever vice they choose.
In the above scenario, Jane’s friend is not the problem; actually, Jane isn’t even the problem. The problem is the way Jane thinks about herself. She’s a good mom, she’s an adequate housekeeper, she’s a great cook, and she is, perhaps, even an above-average wife. But Jane thinks she should be perfect in all these categories. But instead of processing her feelings and changing the way she thinks and believes about herself, she eats.
I love how Marianne Williamson puts it in her book A Course in Weight Loss:
“With your system of psychological-waste removal on the blink…you’ve subconsciously tried to get rid of these thoughts and feelings by eating them. If I can’t process my sadness, perhaps I can eat my sadness. If I can’t process my anger, perhaps I can eat my anger. In the absence of an exit valve for what could be seen as your psychological sewage, your unprocessed thoughts and feelings have embedded themselves in your flesh-literally.”
So then when we try to fix ourselves, we only fix the symptom and not the problem: we diet so we’re not fat anymore or we cut up all our credit cards or we put blocks on the pornography sites, but we eventually go back because we haven’t dealt with the root.
I am not saying that the moment you deal with your shit that your addiction, like food or shopping or sex, will just evaporate. No, it won’t. You will still have to do the work to completely conquer it, but instead of looking up at the icy, razor cliff edges of Mt. Everest, you’ll be gazing up from the bottom of the 1-mile long incline from your house to the stop sign at the top of the hill. Sure, it’s not fun, but it’s manageable.
But here’s the million-dollar question: are you willing to do the work? Because dealing with your shit will require time and perhaps, as much as it might hurt your pride, some counseling, whether from a friend or a professional. It will require you to be alone with yourself, perhaps even give up a t.v. show or two. And it will require you to be honest about your past, your present, and your future.
Are you ready for that?